Dance of the Swan – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Wednesday to Wednesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Sonya at Only 100 Words:


. . . and this is my story:

Alexei surveyed the solid ice block before him, considering the shape he was about to sculpt. He knew every curve of the slender neck, every line of the beautiful face. He’d marvelled at her exquisite elegance as he’d watched her glide effortlessly from one position to the next.

As the ice took on its overall shape, Alexei deftly used his little ice knife and small, flat chisel to create the finer features. He imagined those intelligent, dark eyes, gazing back at him. How close the two of them had become in such a short while. He’d never imagined he would lose her.

‘But I must go to Moscow, Alexei!’ Katerina had exclaimed at his feeble requests that she stay. ‘My life would be nothing without the Ballet. I shall be Odette, the beautiful swan. And I shall return to you once we close.’

So long ago…

Now a prima ballerina, Katerina had chosen the adoration of millions over Alexei’s love. To him she had become a beautiful, icy swan, destined to just melt away…

Word Count: 174


If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:


For anyone interested, here is some information about The History of Ice Sculpture. from various sources:

Ice sculpture is the art of carving shapes out of ice, ranging from small table decorations to entire towns of ice seen at winter festivals all over the world. The origins of ice scupting are credited to both China and Russia:

In the 1600s, hunters and fishermen of the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, on the border of Russia, designed ice lanterns. They filled buckets with water to make ice, then slid it out and put a candle in the hole to make a lantern. People started hanging decorated lanterns from homes and parading them in carnivals. Here’s a pictute of an ice lantern I found that looks bucket-shaped, and how I imagine those made in China might have looked:


Lantern of Ice. Uploaded by Eric Sylwan. Commons

In 1897, the Trans Siberian Railway was extended through the small Chinese fishing town of Harbin in Heilongjiang. Increased traffic resulted in Harbin growing into a cosmopolitan city. With below freezing winds from Siberia, and ice from the frozen Songhua river, Harbin became the home of the annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Currently, this festival features the work of thousands of artists from all over the world and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest snow sculpture. The sculpture, entitled “Romantic Feelings”, measured 115 ft tall and 656 ft long.

Harbin Ice Festival. Originally uploaded by LiYan.  Commons

Harbin Ice Festival. Originally uploaded by LiYan. Commons

The first historical occurrence of ice sculpture in Russia was in 1740 when the Empress Anna Ivanovna commissioned the building of an ice palace in St. Petersburg. The palace was intended to be an elaborate joke, but to the empress it was meant as something darker. She delighted in humiliating nobility, and Prince Mikhail Galitzine had annoyed her by insisting on marrying an Italian Catholic. After the death of this first wife, the empress forced him to marry her ugly, elderly servant woman. The ice palace was built as the stage for the wedding. Following the church ceremony, the couple were fastened inside an iron cage on the back of an elephant and paraded toward the palace in a procession of horses, camels, wolves and pigs. They were then forced to spend the night inside the frozen mansion, with guards posted outside to ensure they stayed there.

Today, there are a number of ice festivals around the world. Other than the one at Harbin, China, they include those in Japan, Canada, Alaska (USA), Belgium, Sweden, Russia and the UK.


Ice castle during the Quebec Winter Carnival of 2009. Uploaded by Shapiros 10. Commons


Ai Weiweis Ice Sculpture in Stockholm, Sweden, 2014. Uploaded by Frankie Fouganthin (own work).

Ai Weiweis Ice Sculpture in Stockholm, Sweden, 2014. Uploaded by Frankie Fouganthin (own work).



About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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47 Responses to Dance of the Swan – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

  1. I absolutely loved your story Millie! The history of ice sculpture is very interesting! Hopefully Prince Mikhail Galitzine and his elderly bride could at least be friends. (Sad story) I loved the broken heart love story of Alexei and Katerina.(Another sad story).

  2. Sonya says:

    Love the last line, Millie – excellent use of the prompt!

    The picture was taken at the London Ice Sculpting Festival 2014 – it was fun watching the sculptures develop.

    • milliethom says:

      I thought it must have been the 2014 Festival, (I’d looked up to see when the last one was.) You’re so lucky living where all these events take place! It’s a great picture,

  3. Shivangi says:

    Great story and amazing info… Thank you

  4. Although the story was sad, it was a beautiful sad story. I still felt the elegance Katerina had as a prima balleria and the love Alexei had for her ❤

    The history about ice sculpture is so interesting! Your choice of ice sculpture photos are absolutely stunning! Good job as always Millie! 😉

  5. says:

    Lovely story. The ice swan just personified the ice cold”love” of Katerina. Poor Alexei, he should have known that it would happen if he did not go with her on her journey. Interesting information on ice sculpting too

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you so much, Scrapydo. Your interpretation was the same as mine. Glad you liked this week’s ‘extra’. There was so much about the history of ice sculpting, it took me a while to decide which bits to write about! It took me a lot longer to sort that out than it did to write the story. I’m just a glutton for punishment sometimes! 😀

  6. Such a beautiful (though sad) story! And isn’t that how it often goes in life.

    Interesting extra bit, too. It made me think that maybe I should check if I could sign up for learning to do ice sculpting next winter!? It might be nice to try that! (Though cold, too, hmm… maybe I should think about it…)

    • milliethom says:

      Yes, the cold is the unattractive bit. If you’re an ‘arty’ kind of person, ice carving would be good. At the exhibition in London in 2014, there were lessons available. I didn’t go personally, I just saw that little snippet online. Perhaps other exhibitions do the same.
      Thank you for liking my story, too! 🙂

  7. Bekki Hill says:

    What a perfect use of the ice swan idea 🙂 Excellent!

  8. Bekki Hill says:

    PS Nice to see we’re both on pond birds this week 😉

  9. Francesca Smith says:

    Very touching story and the history is very intriguing. Once again, I have learnt something new.

  10. exiledprospero says:

    Yes, and I know le Bonhomme Carnaval personally. A gelid and Faustian story, Millie.

  11. What a lovely tale Millie. I really liked that. Love the ice sculptures – wow! I just could not find your comment button… I found it! 🙂

  12. we can always count on you to go that extra mile! Love that ice Foo Dog. Your story was perfect, I love the ballet element.

  13. Great story Millie and I loved the information on ice sculpture. The history part was very interesting. I can’t imagine an snow/ice sculpture that is 115 feet tall and 656 feet long… Oh my..

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you Tony! I can’t imagine that either – it’s an incredible achievement.
      (Whilst you’re there could you tell me whether yours is an award free blog? I have a feeling it is, but can’t find anywhere that says so.)

  14. Yes, that is the main reason my site is award free. I just don’t have the time to do all the things that need to be done with the awards and keep up with everything else I need to as well.

  15. For some people the love of an art or craft supersedes the love of a man or woman. For other people it is only the love of a man or woman that make them feel whole. The lucky few fall in between.

    • milliethom says:

      That’s very true, I agree. There have been stories of many talented writers, artists, actors, dancers etc. whose art came before relationships. I imagine it’s just too difficult to devote the necessary time to both. Thanks, Dawn 🙂

  16. naturelover says:

    Every word beautifully describes the “warmness of love”.
    Beautiful use of imagery!

  17. Just letting you know that some of the links to your stories on the right column are broken links. My apologies if you already know this……

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